Kreator - Renewal review


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Band: Kreator
Album: Renewal
Release date: 1992

01. Winter Martyrium
02. Renewal
03. Reflection
04. Brainseed
05. Karmic Wheel
06. Realitätskontrolle
07. Zero To None
08. Europe After The Rain
09. Depression Unrest

Damn it grunge, you ruined Kreator.

We all know the story by now, thrash band enters the 90's and comes to realise they need to evolve or die owing to shifting trends; said band radically alters their sound and ends up shooting themselves in the foot, not producing what new audiences asked for whilst the fans who stuck around were disinterested. Kreator were no exception come Renewal in 1992, though whereas many of their contemporaries went more mainstream, the band opted for the Testament route, zigging where others zagged and instead moving to a different niche from thrash. This album's reputation precedes it for a reason; this is easily one of the worst albums from the era of thrash bands transitioning in the 90's, the opus nope-us of this period and easily the worst of Kreator's career.

Going from violent all guns blazing thrash to an eclectic mix of industrial, hardcore and alternative is a hell of a jump musically, and one that is not the most natural of changes. Though there is enough here to retain a hollow sense of lingering personality, you will be shaking your head as to why they chose this path.

"Winter Martyrium" opens the album and introduces you immediately to the dilemma that will haunt your mind for the rest of the record: is it better for a band to experiment so as not to sound stale or become extinct, or is it better that bands continue to plow the same furrow and run the risk of re-treading the same ground over and over into an early grave? The track sounds interesting in places, but it is so boring and incoherent elsewhere that stopping yourself from reaching for Terrible Certainty is a real test of will power.

The band strips away many of the aspects of their sound that would be considered assets at any other point in their career; the few they carry forward are ill-used and end up being burdens rather than advantages. The main aspect would be Petrozza's vocals: his raw but powerful roar was the perfect compliment to the violent thrash storms the band would whip up before on prior albums sitting alongside the raging storm that was a Kreator track. On Renewal, however, it is isolated and has no suitable wall to bounce off of, exposing his voice as being a more hoarse and shredded Henry Rollins-esque ("Winter Martyrium") that shouts down an empty corridor. The few times the band try and adapt his voice to fit in with the song ("Reflection"), it is with the most wonky and cheap-sounding effects, which only serves to give you the same problem but now with a crap effect on top ("Renewal").

The band's playing isn't bad, but it is a poor use of their talents, like when Michael Jordan became a baseball player; sure he wasn't bad, but his talents were much better utilized elsewhere. The same can be said of Kreator with Petrozza's and Gosdzik's guitars not being bad but a far cry from what they do best. Tracks like "Karmic Wheel" are like watching a Formula One stuck in first gear; they could be used so much better in other ways, but instead you're stuck with faux-atmospheric interludes instead of ear-splitting heavy metal. Ventor is the only member of the band who really has few complaints to his name; sure, he is also underutilized, but at least he is able to produce mildly interesting parts in this new look sound.

The production of this album is as confused as the direction of the album; going for a crunchy yet solid tone with a heavy industrial bent is a good choice, but it then runs headlong into having some of the worst effects around and a balance in the mix that isolates each instrument so it stands apart but works as one. Take "Brainseed" as an example, the guitars are drenched in effects alongside the vocals while the drums pound away, though none of these sounds mix together and meld their powers. You end up with a hodge podge that is the sonic equivalent of a choir singing from different hymn sheets.

There are moments here and there that recall the band closer to their element and sound more familiar, but they're at best middling in quality and are hampered by the need to change the band's sound. "Brainseed" and "Zero To None" sound like B-side quality leftovers from prior releases thrown through the mangler that is Renewal; they are the best things on offer here, but they are far worse than even the worst tracks on the band's prior work.

As a piece of evidence of how thrash bands were forced to adapt or die, Renewal is an interesting example of just how far bands felt they had to go to fit in with shifting trends, an odd aberration and one that is ok to listen to for that reason. As a going concern and a regular record? One that is such a blot on the band's reputation that it gives them the unfortunate prize for worst transition album.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 5
Songwriting: 4
Originality: 6
Production: 5


Written on 03.12.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 5   Visited by: 45 users
03.12.2020 - 21:53
Ball Fondlers
Wow, awesome review. As negative as it is I'll have to give it another listen to see how it is now.
03.12.2020 - 22:01
Troy Killjoy
It would make sense to expect something like this from a band with Alex Skolnick (Testament) in it but not sure where the inspiration came from here.

Not even deserving of such an in-depth review but good job handling this the way you did.
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."
04.12.2020 - 00:42
After Metallica's black album (so boring that I'm sleeping just to mention it), all the thrash metal bands tried to emulate the "leaders" in slowing down their sound. But Metallica was one and only case and no other band reached the same level of success in doing so. Let's say that Metallica almost succeeded in dissolving thrash. Testament - The ritual and Low, Overkill - I hear black, Megadeth - Countdown to extinction, Youthanasia ecc..., Destruction with two EPs that nobody bought and then the full length The least successful cannonball (embarrassing), Exodus - Force of habit, Kreator - Renewal, Anthrax - Sound of white noise and so on...Some other bands simply disappeared like Artillery and Death Angel, others were judged stagnant by critics of the time like Slayer - Divine Intervention. From 1992 to 1998 thrash had the worst period of all...then suddenly from the ashes of itself is reborn by going back to roots. Luckily! Instead of a RENEWAL they needed a VIOLENT REVOLUTION!
04.12.2020 - 11:36
Top opinion.:thumbup:
28.12.2020 - 23:58
I actually think this is Kreator's best experimental album. It has a very punk sound to it, and Petrozza's singing voice isn't half bad. Winter Martyrium, Depression Unrest, and Karmic Wheel are songs that I quite like. Don't get me wrong, Kreator is a great thrash band, but I think this is pretty good for what it is, if you like the punky/hardcore sound.

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